Care farm free veg scheme a hit at town’s largest employer
PUBLISHED: 14:36 09 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:27 09 March 2020
A care farm has joined forces with a large local manufacturer to set up a scheme to supply free fruit and vegetables for the plant’s 1,000-strong workforce.
Starting in January 2020, Clinks Care Farm began delivering fresh produce to nearby M & H Plastics in Beccles, funded from savings made through plastic waste reduction at the firm.
Care farm founder Doeke Dobma said the scheme had been enthusiastically embraced by staff.
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"At the Beccles Farmers Market I meet and speak to their employees who are all very excited and positive about this new initiative which started in January 2020," he said.
"It is a win-win- win situation which could be replicated elsewhere in other locations in the region and beyond."
The care farm, which helps a range of people through therapeutic activity at the farm, is also involved in talks with the company about exploring local opportunities for farm helpers to move on into employment. The farm also recycles its crates into a number of items, including shelving.
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M & H Plastics general manager Joe Rahman said the business, which was established in 1973 and was recently acquired by plastic packaging maker Berry Global, a large multi-national based in Evansville USA, promoted a people-focused culture and values.
"We are well aware of our commitment to the local infrastructure and take a conscious effort to support local businesses and charitable organisations, many of whom we have had long standing relationships with," he said.
As part of the firm's aim of achieving zero waste to landfill, it has significantly reduced the use of single use plastics in its seven on-site canteens and around the site.
"Rather than bank these savings and as part of our health and wellbeing initiatives. We believed it would be an innovative way to offer free fruit and veg to our people on a regular and ongoing basis to aid in achieving healthier lifestyle choices for all," he explained.
"Several of the team live within a 30 minute commute of Beccles and happened to notice signs for Clinks Care Farm. After an initial meeting and looking online at the admirable work this foundation undertakes we felt that this aligned well with our own values and beliefs. We have since had several deliveries of Clinks' home-grown fruit and vegetables, receiving positive feedback from all our people. Our aim is provide ongoing support to Clinks Care Farm through this initiative."
Clinks Care Farm produce co-ordinator Liz Beedham said the deliveries - which had so far been of seasonal vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips and onions from their zero-chemical farm - had been well received by employees, and the site was now organising it so that those on other shifts got a share.
"It's a great activity for farm helpers to be involved in," she said. At the moment, the farm helpers are making pots from old newspapers so that they can grow lettuces from seed which can then be delivered to M & H without the need for plastic packaging, she said.